Use what talents you possess; The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. – Henry van Dyke
What does that mean?
Think about that for a moment. Imagine how quiet the world would be if only the best of the birds sang? What if only the best artist painted? Can you wrap your head around that? I know I can’t.
Can you imagine if we had to choose between contemporaries Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo? Some of their best work overlap. Which one should have remained silent and still, doing nothing, while the other worked?
The point of the quote is that we can all contribute, even if we are not the best in the world, or even in our neck of the woods. I’m not the best blogger by any measure, yet I contribute in my own way.
This quote urges us to get out there and do what we can, whether it be singing in the woods or doing any other activity where ever it is appropriate for you. Don’t hide your ability because you aren’t the best. Practice, and get better, even if you will never be the best.
Why is doing your best important?
At any one time, only one person can be the best at something. With the Winter 2014 Olympics just under two weeks away, that is very apparent. Does that mean that only one person should compete in each sport? Or only one from each continent or country? On any given day, someone could be sick or injured, changing the complexion of the entire event.
More importantly, does the winner of the Silver Medal have any less importance? Could you learn more from the person who came in second than the person who came in first? Does only one of them have something of importance to contribute to the world or to you? Or do they each have a part to play, along with the Bronze and all the others who participated?
I hope you can guess that I believe they all have something to contribute. But if we cannot draw the line between the Gold and Silver, nor between the Silver and the rest of the Olympians, where can we draw the line? I agree with the quote and believe that we cannot draw the line at all.
The quote says we all have something to contribute. While that may be hard to understand when at a Karaoke place, but we all have to start someplace. How much of their apparent lack of talent is nerves, and how will your response help or hinder their performance? I hope you take a moment to think about that.
Where can I apply this in my life?
This quote should be applied to all the parts of your life where you are afraid to step forward and try something. Perhaps you are overshadowed by a very talented family member or friend. The question is why do you let that stop you? If they make fun of you, be strong and tell them that they are wrong to do so.
Going back to the Karaoke bar example, someone who possess talent is presumed to be above average, so hopefully they will all be at least passable. But they are being compared to the original artist, in theory a talented professional, so by definition they will not be the best bird singing in the woods, right?
This quote is about doing what you can, to use what talents you have, and to use them for the betterment of yourself and others. Not stated, but implied, is that most of us can become better, with a little practice. If you take that backwards in time, at one point, your best talent was probably at least a little below average, right?
Yes, some people seem to have above average talent from an early age, but most of us have to work at it for a while to get to the point of having something resembling talent. The point of this paragraph is to remember we all start somewhere, and that talent usually takes some effort to develop.
Where in your life do you think you have talent, either developed or waiting to be developed? What have you done to develop it so far? What are you considering doing to advance the development of it? When and where are you practicing? How are you trying to improve your talents?
Take a moment to consider the answers to the questions posed in the prior paragraph. Have you ever taken the time to actually consider your talents, and how you became talented? If not, would now be a good time to start? If you have already considered it, what were your conclusions then, compared to now?
That was the internal version of the use of this quote. For the outside version, have you considered inspiring or helping someone else pursue their talents? Sometimes we don’t think we’re good enough, but a kind prodding from someone can help us get started. Who could you help in this way?